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Cardiorespiratory Physiotherapy

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What is Cardiorespiratory Physiotherapy?

Cardiorespiratory physiotherapy is the practice of physiotherapy to improve cardiovascular and pulmonary function. Principles of cardiorespiratory physiotherapy can be used in acute life-threatening situations and for top-level athletes.

In university, physiotherapists receive extensive education in cardiopulmonary and cardiovascular anatomy. physiology, pathology and treatment. Therapists use their knowledge to provide exercises and perform manual therapy to improve cardiovascular and pulmonary health.

The goals of cardiorespiratory physiotherapy are extensive and begin with improving delivery of oxygen to the blood and consequently, the rest of the body. In acute situations, therapists may perform a variety of manual therapy & positioning techniques, and breathing & mobilization exercises to improve oxygen delivery. For example, a patient with pneumonia will have reduced blood oxygen levels due to mucous blocking airways. This patient may require manual therapy and exercise to help move secretions out of his/her lungs to improve oxygen delivery. Treatments can be life saving under certain circumstances.

In less acute situations the goals of cardiorespiratory physiotherapy are more long term. A treatment goal may include long term improvement in cardiovascular function and this is done primarily through therapeutic exercise. Using their knowledge of exercise physiology, therapists can design programs for patients to not only improve their cardiovascular and cardiopulmonary health, but the health of their entire body.

Here is a list of conditions that are commonly treated with cardiorespiratory physiotherapy. This list is not extensive!

  • Pneumonia
  • COPD
  • Asthma
  • Heart Disease
  • Post-operative: Lung surgeries & heart surgeries (most common)

Please note

This article is not intended to be a literature review.  While some literature may be cited in some cases, this article should not be used as scientific-evidence of a treatment or service.  Please contact your physiotherapist or other appropriate health care provider to better understand the scientific literature supporting or refuting the use of a particular treatment.

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